The Powerful Organic Consumer

trainIn this past Sunday’s Washington Post, there was an article in which Whole Foods’ co-CEO Walter Robb was interviewed on their decision to require labeling of GMO products in 5 years.

WF’s decision is a game changer.  There have been many efforts to push for legislation to require labeling- and there are now ballot initiatives in multiple states pushing for GMO labeling- but the consumers couldn’t wait that long!

In the interview, Robb speaks frequently of the consumers’ influence in their decision…

As we began to look at our position, I think it became clear that this was a step that we needed to take. Fundamentally, [customers] were right about the fact that food should be labeled so that they had the right to choose.

…the encouragement of our customers — it all led to us saying this is the step we need to take as a company.

Would you sell products that have GMO ingredients that are labeled? Or would you prefer to be a completely GMO-free store? Is that the end goal?  “It’s our customers who are going to make those choices. We’re just going to put a label on it and let people make their decisions.

For customers who want the non-GMO choices, they can choose right now. Organic, by law, doesn’t allow GMO technologies.

The FDA has made their decision [that GMO crops are “substantially equivalent” to traditional crops], but it obviously has not satisfied people, hence all the activism around this.

WF deserves much credit in that they listened to the consumers and responded.  However, the real force of influence is The People.

We are fortunate that Whole Foods exists.  They are a $12 billion behemoth and a real avenue for change.  With their massive size (and influence), they have the ability to dictate to the entire industry such edicts.  But they are mostly a reflection of the consumers’ desires and demands.  In the end, it is you, the consumer, who deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

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3 Responses to The Powerful Organic Consumer

  1. John Tomlin says:

    Smart consumer choices require accurate product information; no two ways about it. Even though I will remain a loyal Mom’s customer, I have noticed the influence of alternative markets on the traditional super market biggies, e.g. Giant, Safeway, etc. They are devoting more space to organic foods in response to the competition.

    • Kelly H. says:

      That is true, but sometimes if the organic items don’t sell as well, they get rid of most of them. The Safeway store closest to me used to have a whole organics section, but they got rid of it a couple of months ago because the organics weren’t selling well. Now they hardly have any organics at all. 😦

  2. Ellen says:

    Thank you Scott for the big picture. It takes us all together to make changes. GMO should be banded.

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